Magnificient May Gardens

Magnificient May Gardens

by Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks picks an eclectic mix of four very different gardens opening for the National Garden Scheme in May.


A unique opportunity awaits the garden visitor on the 23rd and 24th May, between 6.30 and 9pm. A rare chance to explore the walled garden and heritage grounds of Tilgate Park in the early evening, including a talk from the Head Gardener, Nick Hagon, at 7pm. The azaleas, camellias, candelabra primulas, plus the rhododendron collection, make a colourful impact at this time of year. This Green Flag Award parkland comprises lawns, lakes and important tree and shrub collections which are at their very best in spring when the extensive rhododendrons bloom for all to see.

  • The Walled Garden at Tilgate Park, Tilgate Drive, Tilgate, Crawley RH10 5PQ.
  • Admission £7, children free. Cash only.
  • Includes glass of wine and canapés.


Opening on May 20th from 1.30 to 4.30pm was first mentioned in Duchy of Lancaster records in 1545. It was associated with the role of Master of  the Ashdown Forest. It is set high in the Weald and has far reaching views of East Grinstead and the Weirwood Reservoir. The garden extends over 11 acres, with a spring fed stream feeding ponds. There is a magnificent davidia, rare shrubs, embothrium, with many different varieties of meconopsis and abutilons. Not to be missed.

  • Legsheath Farm, Legsheath Lane, near Forest Row RH19 4JN.
  • Admission £5, children free.
  • Home-made teas.


An 18th century walled garden in all its splendour can be visited on the 27th May, from 2 to 5pm, with cut flowers, vegetables, salads and fruit. Visitors can also see, a separate orchard, a rose garden and lots of herbaceous borders, plus extensive lawns and an 18th century barn. A hazel walk is being developed. The two greenhouses produce many varieties of tomatoes, peppers and chillies, with basil, aubergines and cucumbers and there are also many different varieties of cut flowers.

  • The Beeches, Church Road, Barcombe, Lewes BN8 5TS.
  • Admission £5.00, Children free.
  • Home-made teas.


An eclectic mix of town gardens will be on show on the 19th and 20th May in Haywards Heath, from 1 to 5pm. Harlands Gardens are designed, built and maintained by busy people who love and enjoy their plots, they comprise awkward shapes and differing gradients and are designed with relaxation and socialisation in mind. The gardens offer rich cottage- style planting schemes, varied ponds, delightful courtyards, practical kitchen gardens and habitats for wildlife.

  • Harlands Gardens, 52 & 55 Penland Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1PH (plus 5 Sugworth Close and 27 Turners Mill Rd)
  • Admission £5 children free.
  • Home-made teas at 27 Turners Mill Road.

Full details can be found at